Essay No. 91:
The Civilising Effect Of Commerce: The advance of civilisation has not been the same in all nations. Some have progressed rapidly, owing to their climate, geographical situation and natural resources. The leaders among the nations have had the task of educating and civilising the backward peoples of the earth.
The Romans were far ahead of the other peoples of Europe in the arts and sciences. They were also highly trained and efficient in war. So the Romans defeated one after another, the backward tribes of Europe, and introduced Roman law and culture to them. But civilisation by force of arms is not always to be depended upon, as there may be a feeling of resentment remaining which will impel the people thus civilised to long for their own old ways and to return to them at the earliest opportunity.
Christian missionaries have carried the teachings of Jesus all over the world, and have rendered some service in the backward areas. But elsewhere they have failed. Buddhism and Islam have all penetrated other lands to spread their beliefs and their culture.
Commerce has played a leading part in civilising secluded and backward peoples. Egyptian and Phoenician merchants sailed in their ships all over wèstern Europe and carried the learning of their advanced peoples to the barbarous tribes with whom they traded. It was probably Phoenician trade that carried the seeds which produced the civilisation of Greece. The civilisation of Rome was spread abroad as much by Roman traders as by the legions.
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For the sake of trade, the English and the Dutch started their various colonies and introduced the civilisation of the west into remote parts of the world. Again u many parts of backward Africa, traders and missionaries seemed to arrive together, and both play their part in the spread of new ideas.
Along with western blessings, western evils were sometimes mixed. The Redskins of North America were often corrupted and lowered by the drinking habits which they learned from the traders. There are the evils as well as the virtues of civilisation, and sometimes they spread abroad together.